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The Amateur Magician's Handbook

by Henry Hay

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The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay

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For more than a generation The Amateur Magician's Handbook has been the acknowledged classic text for conjurers, both beginners and advanced. Even David Copperfield recommended it during one of his TV specials. Literally thousands of magicians found their love for magic through this book. Several of these magicians are today recognized performers. This fourth edition, expanded as well as thoroughly revised, and introduced by Milbourne Christopher, includes a section where the Amazing Randi contributes his experience using video for self-coaching.

This new edition teaches, briskly yet carefully, with hundreds of illustrations, all the skills and secrets of the wizard's repertoire: reading minds, pulling rabbits from hats, turning red handkerchiefs green, dissolving konts, pouring drinks from empty jars, dealing yourself all the aces, finding silver dollars in the air, to name a few.

The Amateur Magician's Handbook stands alone in showing how and why magic works as entertainment: how spectators think and how you must think, and feel, to make puzzling tricks pleasing.

A comprehensive new section covers the difficult but rewarding (and potentially profitable) art of entertaining children.

The final sections tell you what you need to know about conjuring beyond the tricks: comedy; pantomime; music. An extensive bio-bibliography includes not only the great conjurers of the past but also the up-and-coming conjurers of today.

Lastly, author Henry Hay offers guidance on making magic make money for you. "If I hear of someone's studying The Amateur Magician's Handbook and then climbing out of the amateur class by getting paid for a show," says Henry Hay, "I shall be satisfied."

Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Milbourne Christopher
  • A Few Words Before Curtain Time

  1. Chapter One: The Magic State of Mind

  2. Chapter Two: Hard Easy Tricks and Easy Hard Tricks

  3. Part One Hand Magic

  4. Chapter Three: Hand Magic With Cards
  5. Hand Magic
  6. Hand Magic with Cards
  7. 1a. Breaks: little finger
  8. 1b. The Glimpse
  9. As Easy As Spelling Your Name
  10. 1c. Permanent Breaks: the crimp or bridge
  11. Paul Rosini's Location
  12. 2. Shifts or Passes
  13. 2a. The Conventional Two Handed Shift
  14. The Stabbed Pack: effect
  15. 2b. The side Steal or Side Slip
  16. You Must be Wrong: effect
  17. 2c. The Herrmann Pass
  18. 2d. One Handed Shifts "New-Method" Robert Houdin
  19. 2e. One Handed Shifts Old Method
  20. 2f. One Handed Shifts: The Charlier Pass
  21. 3. Forcing
  22. 3a. The Fan Force: the Classic Force
  23. 3b. Thought Forces: similar to classic force
  24. 3c. Sure-Fire Force: The slip
  25. 3d. Sure Fire Force: Stanley Collins Method
  26. Everybody's Card: effect
  27. 3e. The Shift
  28. 4. Palming
  29. 4a. The Top Palm
  30. Charles Bertram's Four Ace Trick
  31. 4b. The Bottom Palm (right hand)
  32. 4c. The Bottom Palm (left hand)
  33. 5. False Shuffles
  34. 5a. Overhand:
  35. Luis Zingone's Table Spread
  36. 5b. Dovetail: extensive coverage
  37. 5c. Hindu Shuffle
  38. 6. Changes
  39. 6a. The Double Lift
  40. 6b. The Top Change
  41. Step on It!
  42. 6c. The Bottom Change
  43. 6d. Palm Change
  44. 6e. Double Palm Change
  45. The Phoney Aces
  46. 7. Color Changes
  47. 7a. The Clip (Felicien Trewey)
  48. Wiping Out the Spot and a Production Flourish
  49. 7b. Sidesteal Color Change
  50. Correcting a Mistake: effect
  51. 7c. Far End Steal Color Change
  52. 7d. Snap Change
  53. 8. Trick Deals
  54. 8a. Second Deal
  55. Five Hands: effect
  56. 8b. Bottom Deal
  57. Flourishes
  58. 9a. The Riffle
  59. 9b. Springing the Cards
  60. 9c. Fanning
  61. 9d. The Back Palm
  62. Vanish and Recovery: effect
  63. 9e. Scaling or Throwing Cards

  64. Chapter Four: Give Them A Rest (Tricks where no cards are chosen)
  65. 1. The Four Aces
  66. Nate Leipzig's Slap Aces
  67. Cardini's Ace Trick
  68. 2. The Cards Up the Sleeve
  69. 3. The Diminishing Cards
  70. 4. The Thirty Card Trick
  71. 5. More Flourishes: Cards from the mouth and Fan Away
  72. 6. The Ambitious Card
  73. 7. The Three Card Trick
  74. 8. Reading the Cards

  75. Chapter Five: Please Take a Card - Standard Card Tricks
  76. 1. Locations
  77. 1a. The Tap (in-jog)
  78. 1b. The Side Crimp
  79. 1c. Approximation, with the Optical Fan Location
  80. The Optical Fan Location (John Mulholland)
  81. 2. Card at Any Number
  82. 3. Stop Me
  83. 4. Spelling Trick with Spell Charts
  84. 4a. The Automatic Speller
  85. 4b. Mental Selection Speller
  86. 5. Reversed Cards
  87. 6. The Card in the Pocket
  88. 7. The Rising Cards

  89. Chapter Six: Hand Magic with Coins
  90. 1. The Tourniquet or French Drop
  91. 2. The Finger Palm
  92. 3. The Flat Thumb Palm
  93. 4. The Regular Thumb Palm
  94. 5. The Regular Palm
  95. 6. The Edge, Oblique, or Downs' Palm
  96. 7. The Change Over Palm
  97. 8. The Back Palm
  98. 9. The Crotch Palm
  99. 10. Sleeving (Brief Coverage)
  100. 11. The Downs' Click Pass
  101. 12. The Downs' Fan Pass
  102. 13. The Squeeze Pass
  103. 14. The DeManche Change
  104. 15. The Handkerchief Fold
  105. 16. Flourish: Coin Roll or Steeplechase

  106. Chapter 7: The Miser's Dream and Other Great Coin Tricks
  107. 1. Miser's Dream
  108. 2. Catching Five Coins (Downs' Eureka Pass)
  109. 3. Manuel's Thumb Gag
  110. 4. Nate Leipzig's Slow Motion Vanish
  111. 5. Leipzig's Coin from Hand to Hand
  112. 6. Coin From Hand to Hand: 3 methods
  113. 7. Silver and Gold: Version of Dai Vernon's Winged Silver
  114. 8. The Sympathetic Coins
  115. 9. Coins Dissolving in a Handkerchief
  116. 10. The Shake Penetration (Senor Mardo)
  117. 11. Coins to Handkerchief
  118. 12. Coin from Handkerchief to Handkerchief
  119. 13. Trouser Leg Vanish
  120. 14. The Dissolving Coin (no disk version)
  121. 15. Finding the Chosen Coin
  122. 16. Date Detection (Eddie Joseph)
  123. 17. Coins Up The Sleeve
  124. Heartbreakers: lots of practice, but little reward
  125. 18. Heads or Tails: always predict coin flip
  126. 19. Coins to Glass
  127. 20. Coin Star (One handed)
  128. 21. Coin Star (Two handed)

  129. Chapter 8: Hand Magic With Billiard Balls
  130. 1. The Palm
  131. 2. The Finger Palm
  132. 3. Simulation (acting as though the ball is in the palm)
  133. 4. Standard Passes
  134. 5. The Trip Pass
  135. 6. The Kick Pass
  136. 7. The Change Over Palm
  137. 8. Color Changes
  138. 9. Flourish: Cardini's Climbing Billiard Balls

  139. Chapter 9: The Multiplying Billiard Balls
  140. Hay's Routine

  141. Chapter 10: Other Hand Magic With Balls
  142. 1. Cups and Balls
  143. 2. Sponge Balls

  144. Chapter 11: Hand Magic with Thimbles
  145. 1. The Thumb Palm
  146. 2. The Steal Pass
  147. 3. Thimble Changes
  148. 4. The Multiplying Thimbles

  149. Chapter 12: Hand Magic With Cigarettes
  150. 1. The Thumb Palm
  151. 2. Tip Tilt Pass
  152. 3. Poke Through Pass
  153. 4. King Size Pass
  154. 5. Tonguing
  155. 6. Lighted Cigarette Through Handkerchief
  156. 7. Card in Cigarette

  157. Part Two: Applied Art: Head Magic

  158. Chapter 13: Head Magic With Cards
  159. 1. Locations
  160. 1a. Unprepared Key Cards
  161. 1b. Prepared Key Cards
  162. 2. Mechanical Decks
  163. 3. Setups
  164. 3a. Systems: Si Stebbins, 8 Kings, Nikola
  165. Behind Your Back
  166. The Shuffled Setup
  167. The Foolproof Card in Pocket
  168. 3b. Special Setups
  169. Sound of the Voice
  170. Spot Location
  171. Got any Good Phone Numbers?
  172. The Royal Marriages (Dai Vernon)
  173. The 10 Card Trick
  174. 4. Card Reading
  175. 4a. By the One Ahead Method
  176. 4b. The Whispering Queen

  177. Chapter 14: Varied Head Magic
  178. 1. Find the Dime (Al Baker)
  179. 2. Who Has Which?
  180. 3. Money Sense
  181. 4. Date Reading
  182. 5. Coin Telepathy
  183. 6. Torn and Restored Paper
  184. 7. Pellet Paper Repeat
  185. 8. Rubber Pencil
  186. 9. Rising Cigarette from Pack
  187. 10. Restored Matches
  188. 11. Linking Matches
  189. 12. Ring On Stick (Major Branson, Indian Army)
  190. 13. The Potsherd Trick

  191. Part Three: Apparatus Magic

  192. Chapter 15 - Silks
  193. 1. Productions:
  194. Stillwell Ball
  195. Roterberg Vanisher
  196. False Finger
  197. Drumhead Tube
  198. Phantom Tube
  199. 2. Vanishes:
  200. Traditional Method
  201. Poke Through Vanish
  202. Pulls
  203. 3. Color Changing:
  204. Color Changing Handkerchief
  205. Dye Tube
  206. 4. Knots
  207. Dissolving Knot
  208. Appearing Knot
  209. Fake Square Knots
  210. Knot That Unties Itself
  211. Sympathetic Silks

  212. Chapter 16: Small Gimmicks and Fakes
  213. Thumb Tip
  214. Finger Tip
  215. Thumb Writer
  216. Card Index
  217. Card Box
  218. Card Frame
  219. Pulls
  220. Hooks
  221. Tumblers
  222. Mirror Glass

  223. Chapter 17: Standard Stuff
  224. 1. Cut and Restored Rope; 3 methods
  225. 2. The Egg Bag
  226. 3. The Passe Passe Bottle and Glass
  227. 4. Liquid Tricks
  228. 4a. The Lota: inexhaustible vase of water
  229. 4b. The Rice Bowls
  230. 4c. The Funnel
  231. 4d. The Ching Ling Foo Water Can
  232. 5. Productions: what to produce
  233. 5a. Hat Productions
  234. 5b. The Tambourine
  235. 5c. Carpet of Bagdad
  236. 5d. The Jap Box
  237. 5e. The Organ Pipes
  238. 6. The Chinese Wands
  239. 7. The Linking Rings

  240. Part Four: Mental Magic

  241. Chapter 18: Mental Magic - Theo Annemann
  242. 1. Magician or Mind Reader?
  243. 2. Psychic Slate Test
  244. 3. Extrasensory Perception
  245. 4. The Stolen Center Ruse
  246. 5. Question and Answer
  247. 6. Stuart Robson's Newspaper Test
  248. 7. Sid Lorraine's Forty Thousand Words
  249. 8. One Ahead Reading
  250. 9. A Day of Your Life
  251. 10. More Alive Than Dead
  252. 11. A Mentalist With Money
  253. 12. The Lyons Bill Switch
  254. 13. Dr. Daley's Slates
  255. 14. The Mystery of the Blackboard
  256. 15. Taps

  257. Part Five: Intimate Magic

  258. Chapter 19: Close Up Performance
  259. 1. Matches
  260. 1a. The Fire Proof Hand
  261. 1b. The Extinguisher
  262. 1c. The Balanced Match
  263. 1d. The Leaping Flame
  264. 1e. The X-Ray Cross
  265. 2. Coin in Roll
  266. 3. The Torn Cigarette
  267. 4. Tumblers
  268. 4a. Balanced Liquid Diet
  269. 4b. Glass Levitation
  270. 4c. Coin Through Glass (Bertram)
  271. 4d. Vanishing Tumbler
  272. 4e. The Ghost Echo
  273. 4f. Singing Glass, Peculiar Pellet
  274. 5. Stringing 'Em Along:
  275. 5a. The Spiral
  276. 5b. The Snare
  277. 5c. The Triple Circle Routine (Jack Salvin and Fred Lowe)
  278. 5d. Jumping Rubber Band on Fingers
  279. 5e. Wild West
  280. 6. Knocking the Spots Off
  281. 7. Coin Boxes
  282. 7a. German Box: Ganson routine (summarized)
  283. 7b. The Okito Box: Tea for Okito from Lewis Ganson's Close Up Vol II
  284. 7c. Boston Box: Fred Lowe's Boston Three Step from Ganson's Close Up Vol 1

  285. Part Six: Children's Shows

  286. Chapter 20: Performing for Children
  287. Children's Venues
  288. Resources
  289. Your Audience
  290. Casting Yourself
  291. Children Are Your Guests
  292. Assistants
  293. Sucker Gags
  294. Never Lose Your Temper
  295. Noise Level
  296. Closing the Act
  297. Time
  298. How Should You Dress?
  299. The Act
  300. Music
  301. Animals
  302. Hand Puppets
  303. Giveaways
  304. What Tricks?
  305. 1. The Afghan Bands
  306. 2. The Breakaway Fan
  307. 3. The Cake Baked In a Hat
  308. 4. Nest of Boxes
  309. 5. Sun and Moon

  310. Part Seven: Platform Magic

  311. Chapter 21: Platform Magic
  312. Things You Should Know
  313. Take Those Articles Along
  314. The Wand
  315. Clothes
  316. Faked Furniture
  317. Servante
  318. Black Art Wells
  319. Coaching Yourself with Videotape (The Amazing Randi)
  320. Chapter 21: How to Stage a Magic Show: Some Professional Advice
  321. 1. Comedy
  322. 2. Pantomime (Louise Gifford)
  323. 3. Music (Henry Blanchard, Boyd C. Roche)
  324. 4. Night Club Shows
  325. 5. Business Methods
  326. 6. Publicity

  327. Appendix: Further Tricks and Illusions Glossary
  328. Biography and Bibliography: Index of magicians and publications
  329. Index

1st edition 1950; 4th edition 1982; 424 pages
word count: 157813 which is equivalent to 631 standard pages of text

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Reviewed by Cristian Vidrascu
★★★★★   Date Added: Friday 12 July, 2013

One of the best books on magic, the only issue I have is with the title: the target audience is not limited to amateurs. If I were dictator of the universe, I would make it required reading for any type of entertainer, especially magicians and mentalists.

Covered within are sleight of hand magic versus "head magic" (where ingenious methods not involving sleight of hand are used). There is emphasis on cards, coins, the usual, but what differentiates this from other books on magic is how clearly the psychology of magic is explained. You could tell the author was very sharp, his thought process was very thorough, and his writing style was extremely clear and to the point.

Reviewed by Grandpa Chet Cox (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Monday 02 August, 2010

The BEST single magic book written, bar none. Its only competition is any volume from Tarbell's Course -- and I'd recommend the full Tarbell Course before any one volume.

This will not only take a person from beginner to professional, but will improve the act of any professional who studies it. Bob Cassidy calls it the best introduction to mentalism, and I daresay one could say that about any of the genres the book covers.

Don't forget to pick up the book ABOUT June Mussey (Hays) -- his real life was just as magical as his wizardry.

We need a rating better than "Good" for this book.

Reviewed by Chris Walden
★★★★★   Date Added: Monday 28 January, 2008

This book was what led me from the juvenile section to the grown-up book section in my library as a kid. It was incredibly tough trying to learn sleight of hand with few pictures (by today's standards) and a whole lot of narrative.

Yet between these covers was a world of magic that I had never imagined. It went far beyond the "make at home" approach I had seen and showed me the full range of sleight-of-hand, mind reading and stage illusions. It not only talked about doing tricks but told stories about what it was like to be a magician and to be around magicians. It taught about the work required to do this stuff right and made it clear that it was not something that would happen in an afternoon.

I read and reread that book. When I found a paperback version I snagged it. I finally got a hardback version which I treasure. Now it's here in beautiful, portable, searchable electronic form. It is not the best book for learning any particular branch of the art. But it is a perfect book for acquainting someone with the idea of magic as an art form and the rich palette it provides.

Own it. Read it. Grow from it.

Reviewed by Larry Brodahl
★★★★★   Date Added: Wednesday 23 January, 2008

One of the absolute best books ever written. It concerns itself not only with how the tricks are done, but why. It talks about when apparatus is better than sleight of hand, and when it's not. Some of the coin work seems supremely complicated, but every book should leave you with something further to learn. This book covers about every basic sleight imaginable, along with many prop items. The updated chapter on close up stuff is also very nice.

Frequently bought together with:

A Magical Upbringing: Collected Letters and Articles from June Barrows MusseyJinxTarbell Course

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Magic / [for Beginners]

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